Staff are more settled as sector salaries improve

January 8, 2009

Almost a fifth of universities say that the low turnover of staff in the sector was a problem in 2007-08, a joint report from the Universities and Colleges Employers Association, Universities UK and Guild HE has found.

The 2008 Recruitment and Retention of Staff in Higher Education report says 18 per cent of the 114 institutions surveyed had problems with low turnover rates last year. No reasons are given in the report for the concern about low turnover, which can be a sign of stability and staff loyalty.

Ucea said that low turnover was not a problem for 72 per cent, but added that it could reflect a lack of career progression among staff.

Academics had the lowest turnover rate of any university staff group, at 6 per cent, followed by technical staff at 7 per cent and administrative staff at 10 per cent.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development puts the annual turnover rate in the UK at 17.3 per cent.

The report also says that universities have fewer problems with the recruitment and retention of staff. "On the whole, recruitment and retention is not a problem for the majority of institutions," it says, adding that the situation has "improved steadily" since similar reports in 2001 and 2005.

However, 90 per cent of institutions responding to the 2008 study still say they sometimes have difficulties in recruiting academics, while 80 per cent of respondents cite some difficulties recruiting administrative and professional staff.

Ucea chief executive Jocelyn Prudence said this was "not massively significant", as a negligible number of institutions reported usually having difficulties.

"Overall, this report is a positive one for the sector," she said. "The marginal improvement in recruitment and retention may be due in some part to major improvements in pay in recent years."

About a fifth of respondents say they believe pay levels in the private sector are affecting academic staff recruitment. This is down from a third of those surveyed in 2005.

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